The other day my sister and I took the nieces and nephew for a ride around “the loop” which is basically just circling the community we live in. We live in the middle of nowhere, so we rode around with the windows down, just enjoying the day that God had made.
Stormie kept asking me, “Where we goin’? Where we goin’?” You know how 2 years old can be, always asking questions and asking the same question repeatedly. My reply was, “Nowhere. We’re just drivin’.” (‘g’ is not a letter in the South. ;-))
Bear with me, I swear there’s a point to this.
We drove along a little while longer and finally ended up on a gravel road near one of the cemetery’s around my house. (It’s not as creepy as it sounds. Well, at night it is.) I turned around and headed back home after that, Stormie still asking me where we were going.
After thinking about Stormie asking me, continuously, where we were going, I thought about how it applies to writing. Have you ever read a story or novel and thought, “Where on earth is the author going with this?” And then, at the right time, it’s revealed. Well, it’s not always revealed “at the right time.”
But where are you goin’?
That’s an important question to answer. No matter whether your a plotter or pantser, there’s still the general idea of where you’re going with your story that lingers in the back of your mind. Of course, the plot changes from time to time. That’s to be expected, but as long as you tie it all together, you don’t leave your readers saying, “My gosh. What on earth was she thinkin’? What was the point of this?”
I’m not going to lie. In Dean Koontz’s “Breathless,” I was left with the question “Where was he goin’ with that?” hanging around my mind. Still to this day, it frustrates me that the story doesn’t flow logically, and even if he knew where he was going with the story, I didn’t arrive there with him. And I’m not the only one who feels that way. My dad and I still discuss it. Don’t get me wrong. Dean Koontz is still one of the best authors in the entire world (at least in my opinion), and one terrible story won’t keep me from reading his other works. But if it had been the first novel I read by him, I wouldn’t have picked up another one of his books. All I ask for is that the book keeps me interested and makes me feel like I’m arriving at the same destination as the author in the end.
So, it’s important to make sure that your work flows together well, and that the readers know where the story is going. There can’t be any unanswered questions, characters that really have no place in the novel, or scenes that don’t work in the overall plot.
So, do your readers know where you’re goin’? Or have you made an impromptu road trip and have no destination in mind?